For many centuries early thinkers/philosophers have been trying to figure out man—Who he is, why he was put on earth and what makes him so different from other animals. They looked to the moon, the stars, within themselves and other types of medium for answers. Man was confused about his purpose here on earth. He recognized there was a pattern of living for a while and then came death. However, he felt there had to be more to living than just that. In the 18th century, man was given the label Homo Sapiens (which mean wise man, in Latin) by biologist, Carolus Linnaeus. So man held onto the notion that the difference between him and other animals was man was wise. How did he acquire such wisdom? Well, that is the question man still has a hard time answering. He however, has many theories on the matter; evolution being one of them. In view of the preceding, we will examine what Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, has to say on the matter of wisdom. (I will be borrowing from Eugene H. Peterson’s, The Message, a more contemporary translation, to explain some of Solomon’s wise sayings along with the New King James Version Bible.)
Before that, let us look at a summary of Solomon’s biography: In 2 Samuel, Ch. 12 v. 24, it is recorded, Solomon was born to David and his wife, Bathsheba. He then, later succeeded his father as king over Israel (1 Kings Ch. 2 v. 12). Solomon was a young man overwhelmed with the task ahead of him, so he asked God for wisdom.
1 Kings, Ch. 3 vs. 5-10, says, ““…the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! (the exclamation mark after the word ask denotes a command) What shall I give you?” And Solomon said: “…You have made Your servant king…and Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen…Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. Verse 10 says, God was pleased that Solomon had asked this thing (NKJV).
In his prelude to The Book of Proverbs, Eugene H. Peterson, describes wisdom as the following:
|“the art of living skillfully in whatever actual conditions we find ourselves…Wisdom has to do with becoming skillful in honoring our parents and raising our children, handling our money and conducting our sexual lives, going to work and exercising leadership, using words well and treating friends kindly, eating and drinking healthily, cultivating emotions within ourselves and attitudes towards others that make for peace…In matters of everyday practicality, nothing, absolutely nothing, takes precedence over God.”|
The quote above explains, in a way, why God was so pleased with Solomon’s request. Solomon knew himself— He knew he was young and inexperienced and there was nothing within himself that could equip him for the overwhelming task of leading “a great people too numerous to be numbered or counted (1 Kings Ch. 3 v. 8, NKJV). Therefore, Solomon requested the very essence of God—Wisdom. Why did Solomon ask God for Wisdom? He simply knew Almighty God was the Source, Supplier and Provider of wisdom. How did he know? Solomon reveals in Chapter 4, verses 3 to 7, “When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me and said to me, “…Get wisdom! Get understanding! Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding…”” (NKJV).
Under divine utterance, Solomon spoke of the origin of Wisdom in Proverbs Ch. 8 vs. 22-23 which says, “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, From the very beginning, before there was ever an earth (NKJV).
The scripture above should be enough to satisfy the curiosity of man to answer the question; how does man acquire wisdom? Unfortunately, for some, it is not enough, so they continue to look to the world for answers. Sadly, the answers they find lead them down a destructive road straight into hell.
Solomon, witnessing his father’s many conversations with Almighty God (I imagine), would have inquired with ‘wide-eyed-wonder,’ who he was talking to. David may have replied, “The God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Your God.” David educated his son about Almighty God and His ways. So important was this lesson, that David, before his death, reminded Solomon to, “keep the charge of the LORD your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments and His testimonies…” (1 Kings Ch. 2 v. 3).
As time passed, the entire education system changed and knowledge about the unseen God as the source of all wisdom, knowledge and understanding became less significant to man. C.S. Lewis asserted that, “our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world.” Ancient Greek philosophers relished in the pull of worldly wisdom. Anaxagoras of Clazomenaer, for instance, “identified mind as the governing power of the universe” (Encyclopedia Britannica). He proposed the cosmos/universe was formed by mind in two stages—First, by a revolving and mixing process where all of “the dark” came together to form the night and all “the fluids” came together to form the oceans. Second, by the development of living things through the process of attraction of “like to like,” when flesh and other elements were brought together by mind in large amounts. However, Proverbs Ch. 1 vs. 7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (NKJV). What exactly is the fear of the LORD? Ch. 8 v. 13 says, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil…” (NKJV).
Hence, in the beginning chapter of Proverbs, Solomon pleads with the youth, to shun evil: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood, let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause…We shall find all kinds of precious possessions…My son, do not walk in the way with them” (Proverbs, Ch. 1, vs. 10-15, NKJV). In other words, it is a plea for the youth to not give in to peer pressure. It is always a wise decision to avoid evil.
Eugene H. Peterson’s, The Message asserts, “Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God.” The worldly wisdom man seems adamant to live by was addressed in the book of 1Corinthians, where Paul in Chapter 3, verses 18-20 encourages, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written…The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile” (NKJV). Eugene Peterson, The Message says, “Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It is written in Scripture; The Master sees through the smoke screens of the know-it-alls.”
Wisdom becomes worldly when there is no acknowledgment of Almighty God. In Chapter 2, verses 6-8 Paul said, “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (NKJV). Eugene Peterson, The Message says, “We of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross.”
In part one of this article, I shared with you a conversation between myself and a friend regarding the most important thing parents can do for children. Recall my response was “Give them back to God.” My response was in concurrence with Proverbs Ch. 22 v. 6 which states, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (NKJV). The wisest way to train up a child is in Christ. Christ is the way and there is no other whether you choose to believe or not.
Saints, wisdom is a much needed attribute and should be diligently sought after. After all, when Jesus was sending out his disciples he told them to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. Ch. 10 v. 16). However, it is most wise to acknowledge the Source of our wisdom. Whether you are an excellent student, an innovative inventor or famous doctor, all glory and honor is to be projected towards our Heavenly Father, who is the primary source of all wisdom, knowledge and understanding. “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs, Ch. 2, v. 6).
By Gail Reid
Almighty God richly bless you all.